How many stages can Cavendish win at the Giro?

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How many stages can Cavendish win at the Giro?

Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step – Alpha Vinyl) added a 16th stage win at the Giro d’Italia to his palmares after sprinting to success on Stage 3 of the Italian Grand Tour, but how many more could he win this year?

The Manx Missile held off Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) – who finished second and third respectively – after a 201km ride from Kaposvar to Balatonfured.

Cavendish’s participation at the Giro has largely been seen as a signal that the 36-year-old will not be making a 14th appearance at the Tour de France. However, an impressive showing in Italy could see Cavendish emerge as Quick-Step’s pre-eminent sprinter and force team manager Patrick Lefevere to reassess his plan for the Tour, which – the consensus states – currently has Fabio Jakobsen as Quick-Step’s lead sprinter.

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There are five stages left that present opportunities for the sprinters – and for Cavendish to apply further weight to the growing argument that he should be Tour-bound.

How many stages could Cavendish win at the 2022 Giro d’Italia?

Could and will are two different things.

However, there are – or were – seven stages at the 2022 Giro d’Italia that will more than likely culminate in sprint finishes. Two – the first and third – have already come and gone. Therefore, Cavendish has five opportunities to add to his haul.

How many sprint stages are left in this year’s Giro?

Stages 5, 6, 11, 13 and 18 represent opportunities – to varying degrees – for sprinters to add to their palmares. Here are the stage profiles:

Stage 5 | Catania – Messina (174km)

The second of the Giro’s two stages in Sicily could culminate in a sprint. The Portella Mandrazzi – situated 75km into the 174km ride – presents an opportunity for a breakaway win. However, should Cavendish, Caleb Ewan (Lotto–Soudal) et al get across with the main bunch then this stage will likely finish in a bunch sprint.

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Stage 6 | Palmi – Scalea (192km)

The official site terms this stage “undemanding”, adding that it finishes on “wide, straight and well-paved roads”. It looks likely to end with a bunch sprint for the fastest men – so, expect Cavendish, Ewan, Gaviria etc to battle this one out.

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Stage 11 | Santarcangelo di Romagna – Reggio Emilia (203km)

Pan-flat with just 480m of elevation over 203km and a 350m-long home straight on a seven-metre-wide tarmacked road. A nailed-on bunch sprint.

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Stage 13 | Sanremo – Cuneo (150km)

Ewan has already confirmed that he will quit the Giro d’Italia early to focus on the Tour de France. This, then, will likely be the last stage he contests after saying he would leave the race “before the start of the tough last week.” The Colle di Nava comes roughly a third of the way into the stage, and the sprinters will likely therefore be ready at the end of the day to contest the win.

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Stage 18 | Borgo Valsugana – Treviso (152km)

The final sprint opportunity of the 2022 race is reward for those sprinters who braved an arduous few days in the mountains that preceded it. But who will be left to contest it? More on that below.

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‘So controlled’ – A breakdown of Mark Cavendish’s breathtaking Stage 3 win

Who are Cavendish’s main contenders for sprint stages?

Now that the opportunities have been presented, who are the main threats to Cavendish’s hopes?

As detailed by Felix Lowe in the pre-race Giro d’Italia 2022 sprinters guide, Ewan, alongside Cavendish is, on paper at least, the favourite for the maglia ciclamino – and, thus, likely to offer the biggest threat to the Manx Missile’s hopes of adding further stage wins.

Ewan has five stage wins to his name at the Giro, and is the fastest man at the race. He finished eighth on Stage 3 and has won five stages previously at the Giro, in 2017, 2019 and 2021. The Australian is a notorious slow starter at Grand Tours, claiming just one of his 11 wins before the fifth stage. He has only finished two of his eight Grand Tours, though, and has never completed a Giro. Cavendish, for context, has finished three of his five Giros, and 11 of the 20 Grand Tours he has started. So, should he make it to Stage 18, Cavendish may count himself as out-right favourite for the win.

There, however, are other threats within the peloton to Cavendish’s hopes of adding to his 16 Giro stage wins. Demare – winner of the ciclamino in 2020 – and Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), who won it in 2017, are the other ‘pure’ sprinters in the field. Demare and Gaviria both have five stage wins to their name, winning four of those at the 2020 and 2017 race respectively. Both Demare and Gaviria have finished two of their four trips to the Giro.

Israel Premier Tech’s Giacomo Nizzolo, who collected back-to-back red jerseys in the pre-ciclamino days of 2015 and 2016, was also on the start list, but has only ever won one Giro stage: Stage 13 of the 2021 race.

Other riders capable of stage wins at this year’s race include Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) and Cees Bol (Team DSM).

For a full breakdown of the Giro d’Italia 2022 sprinters guide click here.

So…

To find out the answer to how many stages Cavendish can win, stream the Giro d’Italia live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.

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